Thursday, January 28, 2010

Two Bids in the Hand are Better than None

This post was originally titled "What a boar" in honor of Lou's overnight trip into the Georgia clay and subsequent land navigating at 3am. He spent his birthday night camping with the Army, and after the post midnight briefing went out looking for markers. The briefing had included a short warning about wild pigs,"Avoid them, Men. Georgia boars are killers." So, when Lou walked into a clearing with 4 of them lying about-in the throes of sleep he made quick work to leave without snapping twigs.

But, that is old news after receiving tonight's text message from our realtor. We had just lay down when my phone buzzed. I assumed it was a text from my exercise pal Cassie. Instead, the realtor said,"Check your email" with "!!!" following. So, we immediately jumped out of bed and raced to the computer, regretting that we'd been so thorough in shutting it down for the night. Lou waited patiently while I alternated between "Do you think its an offer?" and "I am not getting excited about this because then it will end up being paperwork and I'll be disappointed!" Lou wisely said nothing because he knew it would do little good. :) And not an offer, TWO! Yes! What a wonderful answer to prayer-we are talking with our realtor tomorrow about our options for both but to have two offers after 6 months of nothing was just exhilarating! So, needless to say I am now too excited to sleep and can give some little updates about what's going on here in Georgia.

Lou has been given a reprieve from his platoon sergeant responsibilities and the baton has been passed. This week has been extremely restful. No late night phone calls, no numerous emails. He and his group did Land Navigation Monday-Tuesday which involved the overnight trip. You know those annoying people who always write things like,"My husband is the best! He's just the most intelligent and cutest guy ever." Well, now I'm going to be one of those,"He was the first man in his platoon to find all the markers and get back to camp." :) Please humor me in my praise of my husband!

When he arrived home in one piece, we celebrated his birthday with pizza, his mom's homemade chocolate cake recipe, and Special Forces movies. He told me today he gained 5 lbs. We're blaming it on our inordinate cake consumption. It could have been the pizza though. 1 large pizza divided by two. (people) My favorite moment was when he unwrapped his Ken Adams Oil sweatshirt. Lou had one as a kid and wore it constantly-until he outgrew it. Then his mom got rid of it. He reminisced about that shirt all the time! Whenever he saw this picture- He told me the story of his beloved Ken Adams shirt.

So for his birthday I decided to see if I could track down a KAO sweatshirt. I spent several months searching Ebay without success, after all, who has a sweatshirt up for auction that was a giveaway from a small business in south Jersey 15 years ago. Not many. So, when time started running out, I took the risk of being thought a little insane and googled the company online. They were still in business! Yay! I spoke with the receptionist and explained the nostalgic value of such a shirt.....was met with disbelief and then "you must be crazy"...but she finally said that the owner would be in the next day and I could talk to him personally. So, I called him the next day and explained how much the shirt meant to my husband, when he was 10 years old...and I think he thought I was crazy too...but he was nice enough to say that I could come in and get one (they only had them in 3X he explained) if I really wanted to. So, I called Dad Crist and he was sweet enough to go drive over there and walk in with the story of his daughter-in-law... and they gave him the shirt! Mom mailed it and it turned out that Mr. Adams was misinformed as they had XL in stock. So, I did not have to attempt to alter it with my handy-dandy sewing machine and Lou got to wear a normal looking shirt. End of story! And here he is-modeling the latest.

This week I added to my Craigs list treasures and sold some furniture as well. I have developed quite a thirst for photographing and listing items-even ours. I don't think Lou will ever come home to a house without beds or tables, but I am trying to get rid of unnecessary pieces that simply collect objects. That being said, I continue to bring in others! :) Like these lamps I bought to go in the livingroom. $20 for the pair! I just have to find shades now....

I got rid of my famous watermelon couch-sold it to a woman who plays a guitar in a rock band but thought it was "too cute". :)
Some people might find these a little more "manly", but I do love the leather!
Plus, I can finally hang my beautiful 2 sisters picture up without it dwarfing the furniture! That picture has special meaning for me. I cut a tiny photo of it out of a decorating magazine when I was a girl and kept it in my scrapbook for years. Then, several years ago Mom and I were at a consignment shop in Roanoke, Virginia and there it was-in real life size! Sad story, the woman who owned it had an entire collection and when she died her daughters didn't want any of them, so they put them up for sale. I hope my daughter wants it!

It has been such a full time of so many changes and yet continues to be a wonderful experience. Small bumps in the road, but God is always so good to us- in spite of ourselves. This morning Lou thought he might have had his thumb broken during combatives- but the x-ray was negative so the doctors think it is simply a pulled ligament and braced it. Even small blessings like this are so good to experience. A break could have caused a lot of problems with his training and Ranger School.

I am getting more organized in the house and am starting some volunteer work at the local thrift here on post next week. I also started classes at the rec center- going 4 days a week for either an aerobics or yoga-fit class. Tried my first yoga class ever this week! And really enjoyed it as well. The instructor is very focused on stretching and flexibility and she puts no emphasis on the eastern mysticism aspects of yoga, which is refreshing. I come home and show Lou all the new exercises I've learned...or at least attempt to keep my balance while demonstrating! :) Its fun but exhausting! My friend Cassie and I always finish and contemplate naps.

Lou has a long week ahead of him- Monday through Thursday are late all dayers in the field. I believe they're going to be doing a lot of shooting. Its strangely calming to wake up in the morning to the sound of machine gun fire. I hear it throughout the day from the ranges nearby. Helicopters fly overhead two-three times a day. We can see the airborne towers 3 minutes from our house. These are the beautiful houses on Lumpkin Road that I covet, every once in a while! The red tile roof appeals to me. :)

This weekend we are taking a break from Benning and driving to Alabama to spend some time with my grandparents on their farm. Granddad has already offered to let Lou take his guns out shooting all day and Grandma Marie wants to catch up on news and more news! We also might get to see my brother Daniel, who has a little time off before shipping overseas to Iraq. Looking forward to it, but I need to pack since we're leaving tomorrow afternoon.
And this is random, but I am missing my little neices tonight and decided to post one of my favorite pics of them. Favorite because the little stinkers were all sure that the "sun was shining in my eyes" and couldn't open them, even though there was no sun to be seen. Betsy and I were coaxing them to smile as I took the picture and it still makes me laugh. We didn't have much sucess.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Side Effects May Include Insomnia.....

So, here it is way late and I'm wide awake. Probably more so than I was at 8 this morning! I blame it all on the coffee. Lou and I bought our first coffee maker when we arrived to Benning. I know, we should have had it years ago. Hospitality is not complete without being able to offer guests a cup of coffee with their dessert. Well, I kept meaning to buy one but since I didn't drink coffee, it slipped my mind....for two, with Lou's early morning schedule here, having to be at formation by 5:50 at latest and sometimes 4:45am, he decided he would become a daily coffee drinker. And, apparently coffee DOESN'T always make my heart race because I had some one night with his special "creme brulee chocolate chip" creamer and was hooked. Tonight, I requested coffee with the Julia Child knock-off dinner I made. And consequently, I had a huge burst of energy that allowed me to finish dinner and wash 2 counter tops full of dirty dishes, fold 3 loads of laundry and put them away, clean both bathrooms, cut Lou's hair and then proceed to mop the kitchen and entryway. All of this and continue to think of things to talk about, which led Lou to say,"I will NEVER let you drink coffee before bed again!" He really was very nice about it, considering that he has to be up by 5 tomorrow morning while I can continue to sleep until 8. But, even he has his limits!
So, after lying in bed for an hour attempting to sleep, I decided to put this energy to some use.

Wednesday I went to an orientation meeting for the wives of Alpha Co. The invitation stated it would last from 3:30-5:00pm and then we would adjourn to the dining hall for a welcoming dinner with our husbands, who would meet us onsite. I was nervous about not showing up at the right building, but it turned out to be on "our" side of post. This is great because our map of Benning is split down the center and navigating from one side of the map to the other side can sometimes be confusing. I don't believe that GPS systems are allowed to map military sites- because ours cannot help us with Benning related addresses. It has an awful and yet terribly predictable tendency to send us to either a gate that is open to traffic from 6-1pm only, or a road under construction. Or, as in the case of the Tricare building beside the hospital, it took me 12 blocks further to a shooting range with a concrete hut nearby. What it lacks in a sense of direction, it makes up for with its sense of humor! Anyway, back to orientation. The first speaker began on time, but waxed eloquent on the many programs available for our education. Very eloquent-and the succeeding speakers only seemed to elaborate on his pace and by the time the captain prepared to address us, it was 5:15...and dinner was in 15 minutes. Poor captain, he had all the schedules of where and what our husbands would be doing for the next 13 weeks, what weekends they would have off and what we should be "spurring" them on to accomplish in this period, but unfortunately most of us had run out of space on our 4x6 notecards at this point and were frantically scribbling down comments like,"week 5-field Tues-Fri" and "Graduation attire-greens" on whatever margins we had left. I think he saw our frantic scrambling because he announced that he would send us the slides with all the data he was presenting. That was reassuring, but it didn't change the fact that we were already 20 minutes late to this "dinner thing". So, he continued on at breakneck speed and I have to give him credit for making it through 20 or so slides in a 10 minute talk. None of our previous presenters had managed to accomplish anything close to it! Much of his presentation was punctuated with,"He'll be in FTX at this time-but you all don't know what that means anyway" and "this is the list of activities for week 7, but you don't know what those abbreviations stand for anyway" the point that I told Lou I felt as though all us wives were branded with "IGNORANT" across our foreheads! There's a scene in "We Were Soldiers"- an officers' wives support meeting,where the rather silly brunette wife says, referring to the laundromat,"And we can only wash whites there. Why have a laundromat where you can't wash all your clothes at once?" and when asked by the others to elaborate,"Well, there's a sign that says,'Whites only'" and then is shocked when the others explain it meant "White (people) only." That's the captain's eyes, that is. Lou was highly amused when I indignantly told him the story of our afternoon- and continues to tease me by asking me a question and following it with,"Oh, but you wouldn't know that-its far too complicated...." :) So, to finish up the story, at 5:45 we made it over to the dining hall to find that our poor husbands had been waiting for us for the past hour and a half! Not only that, but in Alpha Co. there are over 200 soldiers and perhaps 20 are married. So, that meant that 180 single men stood around in ACUs waiting to begin drinking for an hour and a half. "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick"...needless to say, it was amusing! There was a small reception line with hors-d'oeuvres and punch and the poor guys suffered a great while in order to partake of fried popcorn shrimp and meatballs with vegetable trays-all on a smaller than saucer size plate! Quite hilarious to watch them trying to cram a night's meal onto that 4" in diameter china. We nicknamed the "meal" "Ranger Training Dinner", since during Ranger training the food is a scarcity. One round and the caterers were cleaned out. Even the punch was gone. The only things that survived the onslaught were the cocktail sauce and ranch dressing. Even Alpha Co. wasn't hungry enough to take them on alone.

This weekend was a wonderful 4 days of catching up on all weeklong news with Lou, cooking new recipes and searching Craigslist for needed furniture. We were thankful to find a beautiful living room set-couch and loveseat in dark chocolate leather. The couple that owned it had a condo in FL and he was laid off so they had to sell both the condo and the furnishings. The set is beautiful and was a steal at $500! We were thrilled to get it- although I aged at LEAST a year on the ride home with it- after wedging it into our truck bed and securing with multiple bungee cords! Lou laughed everytime we went over a bump and I clutched for the armrest, as though securing my fingernails into it would somehow help the sofa to "hang on" for dear life. :) We managed to get it through our small doorways and now are considering signing up for CSFA (Couch Sitters Forever Anonymous) to help with our addiction! This couple also had a rug, 2 lamps and 2 doormats that we were able to snatch up and have helped to make the house cosier. I especially like the rug. A very unassuming beige plush 8x10 that I treated with Resolve and looks next to new- but that's not the best part of it. I dumped soy sauce (ARGHHHHH) on it last night and ran in a panic to the kitchen to get paper towels and cleaner. But, it was amazing as I blotted it and the sauce literally lifted off the threads without leaving a spot! Love it!

Lou had some bad news at the end of the week. He was just getting ready to breathe a sigh of relief that his week of "platoon sergeant" was ended when he was informed by the cadre that he would continue in the post for this week as well...and there are some nasty rumors that he may be doing it for the entire 13 weeks. All thoughts of uninterrupted lunch hours and dinners have flown out the window. It wouldn't be a problem if there wasn't quite so much mass confusion. The first week he chalked it up to people being uninformed so he made it his mission to inform them. His men receive 2 and 3 page emails about all required uniforms,paperwork, and classroom work for the following days. It is my special theory that they see the emails, click "read" or "delete" and then 2 days later suddenly realize that it is the night before class and they have nothing prepared. So, he receives many...many phone calls from lost people wondering what they need to do to be prepared for (TADA!) the following day. These come during his only time at home-lunch hour and from the time he gets off until bedtime. Then, when its considered bad manners to call because of the lateness of the hour- TEXTs....and then a phone call to see if he received the text. LOL Tonight he prayed for patience. I think that's a wise thing to do under the circumstances.

Well, its late and I should be asleep! I think that I am definitely with Mark Twain on early rising and its benefits. I've been listening to his "Roughing It" on cd for the past week, the account of his trip to Nevada as a young man. I am continually amused at his purely clever way of describing people and places. He makes me laugh, but even better, he makes Lou laugh! So, I was doing some reading online and found this:
Rise early. It is the early bird that catches the worm. Don't be fooled by this absurd saying; I once knew a man who tried it. He got up at sunrise and a horse bit him.
- Mark Twain's Notebook

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hello all! This is my first attempt at an update on our little household since we moved to Fort Benning, Georgia, right outside Columbus. I've been meaning to begin this for some time, but getting settled in has taken time and energy and also, I was searching for the perfect website name....but now I've decided to simply get started and let you all know what's happening in our lives here at our 1st post!

This week has been a busy one, Louis is in-processing to Infantry-Basic Officer Leadership Course (I-BOLC, pronounced just as it looks, with a small "e" sound between "L" and "C".) He was given paperwork last week to the tune of "You will be expected to be in formation at 0450 am, if not earlier, each morning and don't expect to be home until after 2100 all week." Sounds dire, but it actually has been much more relaxed, although the guys have a lot of paperwork to complete, along with testing. Monday morning he showed up and was made platoon sergeant (temporarily). Apparently its an honor that a different lieutenant gets bestowed with each week. In that time you're responsible for the 40some men underneath and disseminating information so that all arrive to their designated areas on time, with the correct paperwork. Its a learning process so Lou comes home each day with new stories, some funny, some not so much!

Yesterday the men underwent medical testing and had blood drawn, went through the water testing phase. This part made me curious, since I am hydrophobic! Well, maybe not really so but I do have a tendency to panic and thrash about when I swallow more than two or three mouthfuls of water. Lou has been taking me to the pool at the aquatic center here on post where we swim laps- or rather he swims laps and I attempt the froggy stroke until I realize my sinking is greater than my floating strokes and immediately doggy paddle to the end of the pool, thankful to be alive! Haha! Well, the pool starts at 5f and goes to 12 and we always seem to start our laps on the 5f end. So, back to the water test. The guys put on all their gear and weapons-iron soled boots,packs, etc and climb a high dive- then they walk to the end with eyes closed, fall off and have to swim back without losing their gear. Makes me tachycardic just thinking about it! :)

We have had a good two weeks to get settled in at Fort Benning and begin learning our way around. We live here on post in Perkins Village, a group of 1960 era single story brinch ranches that have been cookie cut from the same mold x 100. Our house is much larger than our Christiansburg one and its been wonderful to have all that space. It does have the dubious honor of having been painted at least 50 times- so the interior is a creamy yellow-white, very nice in the lamplight. The most unusual thing about it is the flooring.......end to end vinyl tile. Its like being in a grocery store at times....however the cleanup is very simple and I have great plans for finding some priceless handwoven rugs, at the thrift store, of course and carpeting it end to end! :) I have discovered the thrift store (very important outpost :)) library, post office, commissary, post exchange, and even been able to navigate some off post and find my way back to Benning! The commissary where we buy all our groceries is a great place, although they do keep the temperature somewhere in the "lower Antarctica" zone. I keep my coat on the entire time or shiver and shiver and wish I hadn't left it in the car! The prices are great though, for the most part. I was able to get chicken breasts for 1.55/lb on my first trip there and that made it all very exciting! These wonderful baggers bag all your groceries, push them to the car and load them-but you must remember to tip them. We didn't know about this our first time, so the second time I asked the bagger and was mortified to find out we stiffed the last guy. However, we did mention that it was our second day at Benning on the trip to the car, so hopefully he's forgiven us and chalked it up to ignorance, not Northern snobbery! :)

The post exchange is similar to a non-super Walmart and has good quality items, like their beautiful line of retro blue and white Martha Stewart dinnerware and serving dishes. I saw them and was immediately tempted to change my kitchen theme all on account of the ceramic bunny,chicken,duck, and some other cute little animal porcelain napkin rings.....but common sense won out in the end. The post has wonderful deals on crystal and Coach-but if you're not in the habit of buying those items regularly, you still can't bring yourself to take advantage of the $80 serving plate-crystal, down from $158! :) But the manager specials are fun. The not so professional loudspeaker comes on all crackily and a woman announces, as she bounces back and forth from talking with co-workers around her- that an "extra 75% off will be taken in the next 15 minutes on party mix, stale candy canes, and other holiday extras". Then, there's a mad dash for the 2 aisles she directs the customers to and women and men alike grab 2 gallon tubs of cheese puffs mixed with pretzels, now only $1.32. Its so fun to people watch-and get in on it yourself at times!

I am enjoying life here, but missing you all back home very much. Lou and I think and talk about you often and pray for God's blessings on you all. We were able to visit a Presbyterian church here in Columbus this Sunday and were very encouraged by the sermon and the people there. They were warm and friendly and were having fellowship after the monthly communion service, so they invited us to stay and eat. It seems as though it will be a good place to call home while we're here.